Skip to Main Navigation Skip to Content
A daily look back at the toys, games, and objects that captured our attention as children and continue to fascinate us today.

Atomic “Bomb” Ring from KiX (1947)

Company: KiX
Release date: 1947
Where to purchase: eBay

“It’s a seething scientific sensation!”

In 1947, General Mills’ KiX cereal brand offered the Atomic “Bomb” Ring as a premium in exchange for 15 cents plus a cereal box top. Also known as the Lone Ranger Atomic Bomb Ring, it was a reflection of the public’s preoccupation with the power and potential of atomic energy at the time.

The ring had an adjustable gold-coloured band with lightning-blast explosions on its sides. An aluminum warhead was mounted on top and contained a removable red plastic tailfin. The tailfin was hollow, making it a hidden compartment for tiny secret messages.

Removing the red base gave access to a “hidden atomic chamber”, a.k.a. a spinthariscope, in the warhead. Looking through the toy spinthariscope’s plastic lens while in a dark room revealed flashes of light. These scintillations were the by-product of an interaction of radioisotopes caused by polonium alpha particles striking the ring’s zinc sulfide screen.

While infusing minute traces of radioactive material into a kid’s toy wouldn’t fly today, advertisements for the ring assured that it was “perfectly safe” and contained “harmless” atomic elements. The minute traces of Polonium-210 in the spinthariscope had a half-life of about 140 days, meaning that any Atomic Bomb Rings still in existence today can no longer produce visible scintillations.

Explore classic toys and games that captured our attention and never let go.